MARCELO THE ADCC GOAT:
Probably the simplest measure of an athlete’s prowess is always going to be the titles they’ve collected and in this respect, Marcelo ranks above those who most would consider the elite. The highest honour in no-gi submission grappling is undoubtedly the ADCC World Championships and in his eight-year career Marcelo has walked away with a total of seven medals in five editions of this tournament alone. He currently holds the record for most ADCC gold medals with four and is also the record-holder for most submissions all-time in the tournament with fourteen. That alone is enough to cement him as the greatest no-gi grappler of all time without even taking into account any other factors.
MARCELO THE GIANT KILLER:
Marcelo has traditionally competed in the under 77kg or under 82kg weight-classes in his career but has also made a huge impact in the absolute division too. It’s not often that a fighter around his weight has any real success in open-weight competition as it’s usually a stomping ground for the heavyweights of the sport. In the ADCC World Championships, no fighter from Marcelo’s weight-class has ever won the open-weight category so it’s a huge achievement for Marcelo to have taken home both a bronze and silver medal in this division. The IBJJF World Championships are not much different either and considering Marcelo took home a pair of bronze medals in the absolute division there too, it shows that he’s been able to prove time and time again that the idea of BJJ teaching you to beat larger opponents is not just a sales pitch.
MARCELO THE TROPHY HUNTER:
Anybody competing at the highest levels of BJJ long enough is guaranteed to stand across from one of the greats at some point, and most of them lose. Marcelo is not just anybody however, and his victories in competition read like a who’s who of the sport’s greatest competitors. He’s submitted the likes of Cyborg, Xande, Andre Galvao, Leo Vieira, Jake Shields and Pablo Popovitch twice. Of course, that’s not even taking into account him having to overcome several members of the Gracie family in his quest for gold including Kayron, Gregor, Rolles, Renzo and Kron twice. With all of the scalps he’s collected over the years, it’s meant that a lot of his rivals in the greatest of all time debate have already been beaten on the mats before the conversation even started.
MARCELO THE TEACHER:
When you look at someone’s legacy, it’s not just what they’ve taken from the sport that needs to be considered, but also what they’ve given back to it. Marcelo has managed to give back to the sport in the traditional way by building dozens of schools across four continents and giving out several black belts of his own, including his first star student, Gianni Grippo and his truly exceptional class of 2015 – Marcos Tinoco, Jonathan Satava, Phillipe Balmant, Dillon Danis, Matheus Diniz, Mansher Khera and Dominyka Obelenyte. This is not just the only way Marcelo has given back however, as he’s also been one of the first BJJ athletes to embrace the 21st century by creating an online library, Mginaction. You only have to look on any one of the many BJJ message boards or forums to see countless people across the world recommending the site as one of the best available and considering the stiff competition it faces, this just shows the quality of instruction Marcelo is able to give.
It’s a great achievement to take existing techniques or set-ups and practice them until you reach a level where you can execute them flawlessly against top-tier competition but it’s a whole other kettle of fish when you can take a technique and truly make it your own. To create a variation of something that nobody has seen before is what separates elite competitors from the genuine revolutionaries and Marcelo has done just that. The standard guillotine has always been an effective submission but one that tends to be defended relatively often at the highest levels, that is until Marcelo decided to tinker with the hand-positioning. Considering this move took him all the way to the finals of the 2009 ADCC finals with three finishes along the way, it’s easy to see how effective the technique can be when executed to perfection.